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Oil Prices Waver As EU Closes In On New Treaty

David McNew/Getty Images

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices wavered between small gains and losses Friday as the European Union moved closer to a plan that promises to fix the eurozone debt crisis.

Benchmark crude rose 15 cents to $98.49 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price foreign oil imported by some U.S. refineries, also lost 33 cents to $107.61 in London.

Massive debts in several European nations have rattled investors for months. Experts say the eurozone is headed back into recession. Many are concerned about widespread bank failures, if the region doesn’t find a way to reduce debts. An economic slowdown in turn would lead to less spending and weaker demand for oil and gas.

In the U.S., natural gas prices dropped by nearly 4 percent as some parts of the country continued to see above-average temperatures. Until chillier weather sets in, homes and businesses won’t need to crank up the heat, and that weakens demand for natural gas.

“We’re still walking around in shorts over here,” said Stephen Schork, an independent oil analyst and trader in Villanova, Pa. “We haven’t had winter yet.” Colder air is pushing into the Midwest and the Northeast this weekend.

Natural gas prices fell by 13 cents to $3.328 per 1,000 cubic feet in New York.

Retail gas prices were unchanged at a national average of $3.29 a gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. A gallon of regular is about 69 cents cheaper than its peak price near $4 per gallon in May, but it’s still almost 32 cents higher than a year ago.

In other energy trading, heating oil fell 2 cents to $2.9098 per gallon. Gasoline futures rose 1 cent to $2.5767 per gallon.

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